GAINESVILLE, Ga., October 10, 2007 – Brenau University today announced it received a $250,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation to establish a scholarship program and academic support services.
The university will use the grant to aid Hispanic women pursuing degrees in healthcare-related professions.
The newly created program, named the Wal-Mart Nursing and Healthcare Scholars Program at Brenau, will help the university recruit and support Hispanic women in nursing or health-related majors. Working with Hispanic families, the program will assist with the application process, financial aid and follow-up support to help the students succeed academically after they are enrolled.
“With this grant, Wal-Mart proves once again that it not only is a vital economic asset to our community but also a visionary organization that recognizes and addresses the community’s future needs,” said Brenau University President Ed Schrader. “The Spanish-speaking population in our community is growing rapidly, but the overall population in the region is dramatically underserved by health care professionals. The Wal-Mart Foundation’s generosity will help us provide many more skilled, multilingual health care professionals to serve all the people in this community.”
“The Wal-Mart Foundation has a long history of supporting the communities we serve,” said Esther Silver-Parker, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of Diversity Relations. “Through this grant to Brenau University, we believe many members of the greater Gainesville community, and Georgia, will reap long-term benefits.”
Brenau University, with roots in the north Georgia community dating to 1879, already has strong academic programs in healthcare, including a masters degree program in clinical psychology and a five-year undergraduate and graduate program in occupational therapy. Additionally, its nursing curriculum, offered through the Women’s College in Gainesville as well as the Evening & Weekend and Online College programs, currently leads to both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The university’s immediate plans include offering a clinical doctorate in nursing, perhaps as early as the fall of 2008. Further, there is currently a study underway, with an expected completion in early 2008, to determine whether Brenau should also establish a medical school in the North Georgia area. The Wal-Mart Foundation’s funding will bolster Brenau’s overall scholarship program, which contributes about $7.7 million a year in student aid.
Brenau’s main campus is adjacent to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, which in recent years has significantly improved services to the fast-growing Hispanic population of surrounding Hall County. More than 19 percent of the county’s population of about 200,000 is Hispanic, ranking it the fifth-largest Hispanic community in Georgia. The state’s Hispanic population has tripled in the past decade.
Dr. Keeta Wilborn, chair of the Brenau University Nursing Department, said nurses in the community deal constantly with language barriers and cultural mistrust of large institutions, like hospitals.
“The new scholarship program will help Brenau put more friendly faces and understandable voices in this community,” Wilborn said. “There is a critical need and the Wal-Mart Foundation is helping Brenau take the lead in fulfilling this need.”
About Brenau – Founded in 1878, Brenau University currently enrolls about 2,600 students in graduate, undergraduate and preparatory programs in the academy, women’s college, evening and weekend college and online college. The main campus of the Georgia-based liberal arts institution is in Gainesville with satellite campuses located in suburban Atlanta, Augusta and King’s Bay. Brenau’s 2008 ranking as the tenth-best higher education value in the Southeast by U.S. News & World Report marks the university’s third consecutive year in that position for the magazine’s America’s Best Colleges guidebook.
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.